Plenary: Writing the 28th Amendment: Every American Can Help
Johannes Epke from American Promise is working with representatives from the American Constitution Society to gain input from citizens around the country on what should be included in the 28th Amendment. They have put together a brief survey to get people’s inputs on what should be included and people fill out the survey on their smart phones during 28th Amendment discussion gatherings.
Adam Winkler from the American Constitution Society said that corporations have been winning constitutional rights since the 1800s. There are lots of types of corporations and lots of types of rights. Planned Parenthood, NRA and the American Constitution Society are all corporations. He suggested that corporations should have property and due process rights and protection against censorship. We need to target what we want to get at.
Elizabeth Wydra from the Constitution Accountability Center stated that the Constitution encourages the government to regulate corporations in a way that is different from human rights. Property rights and checks on government power make sense but not rights of conscience and actual personhood. The Supreme Court majority got it wrong in the Citizens United case. Their decision was inconsistent with prior Constitutional decisions.
Greg Moore, NAACP Voting Rights leader mentioned the recent Supreme Court decision to make it easier to remove people from the voting rolls. His group has had success with litigation but is at the limit of what it can do. He initially thought it would make sense to have two Amendments, one focused on voting rights and the other on money in politics. Now he would like to see a Democracy Amendment to protect the rights of the people that includes money and voting.
Ellen, an American Promise leader in Ohio talked about the conflict she experienced between the rights of corporations to dump stuff in Lake Erie versus the rights of people to use the lake and have clean water. We have lost our ability to drive these decisions. We have given corporations too much power and not gotten responsibility and accountability in return. Corporations need to contribute to the common good. We need to establish and change the rules.
Jeff Clements asked the question “How many Amendments should we have?” This is all about political equality, equal political rights. Political and governmental realities and implementations have denied political equality. This is a classic example where everything about America is on the line. The Supreme Court generally sides with money as opposed to political equality.
Where do we draw the line on corporate speech – advertising cigarettes near schools, warning on cigarette packs? 50% of Supreme Court cases are about corporate free speech.
Law Professor Ken Chestek commented that corporations are not people. They are tools designed to do certain things. They should have separate protections.
Fix It America has drafted a fairly simple version of the Amendment that covers big money as well as Gerrymandering.